The new curriculum has teachers in our school concerned. The shift is not a problem for many; this has happened often over time, and many teachers have worked through a change in curriculum before. There is some concern over the rewording and the perceived vagueness of the curriculum, but upon close examination, it makes sense to most teachers. And we are inspired by the possible freedom in the classroom that is clearly being encouraged.
However, with the new curriculum, some words stand out and worry teachers—flexible, personalized, choice, are just a few. These terms dance around the idea of differentiated learning. When a teacher has over 200 students and four different classes to plan, this idea is overwhelming. This is illustrated in the video below.
Credit: magiomae’s channel, YouTube
However, the video also uses the misconceptions about differentiated learning for its funniest moments. Helping teachers understand differentiated learning (or many other pedagogical approaches) can be an important role for the Learning Commons. In our Professional Collection, we have books to support teachers (see links below). But more than that, we can provide assistance in planning projects and lessons.
One of the ways differentiated learning manifests itself in the classroom is in the ways students exhibit their learning. The LLC provides the space and technology to give teachers and students the opportunities to show their learning in a variety of ways.
In our LLC, we provide the traditional space for things like gallery walks or presentations. Teachers like this because the change in venue is a breath of fresh air for the students (not to mention, we have much more space). But we also help with students presenting their work in less traditional ways. For example, instead of posters or scrap books, we can help students put together digital posters, blogs or websites. Our LLC has the expertise and willingness to work with students using tools both familiar and unfamiliar to them. We provide the space and the encourgagement—the latter is something some teachers respond to very well.
We also offer an avenue for consultation about these approaches. Like many schools, we have scheduled collaborative planning time, and during these sessions, we offer a coffee house setting to come and explore questions and ideas about using the library, the resources in the library and working with the Teacher Librarians.
Differentiated learning is difficult to implement with 200 or more students; however, by offering and allowing choice through not only assignment content, but also method of presentation, teachers naturally allow a degree of differentiation. And that degree is an essential step in allowing teachers to individualize learning.
A New Resource:
A Classic and Local Resource: